Saturday, February 7, 2015

Blog Series: My Favorite Gluten Free {Flours}

The very first thing I thought about when making the switch to gluten free was, flour.  There are all types of gluten free flour out there:  brown rice flour, white rice flour, sweet rice flour, oat flour, almond flour (which we avoid due to nut allergies), coconut flour, quinoa flour, corn flour, soy flour (which we also avoid due to allergies), sorghum flour, garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, arrowroot starch, cornstarch and more.

However, one can not simply substitute any gluten free flour for wheat flour.  I imagine if you did you'd be left with a crumbly mess.  You have to find the right blend of other flours and starches, and of course the vital xanthan gum, which acts as a binder.

You can make your own flour blend.  There are plenty of recipes out there.  I try to keep a bin of my favorite in my pantry.  But I'm going to be honest.  My favorite blend has a couple of harder to find ingredients that my grocery stores don't always keep in stock.  And I have found that it isn't *that* much cheaper to make my own if I can find good deals on store bought blends.  So while, I do use and make my own, I probably only use it half the time.  My favorite homemade blend is from the book Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread.  My second favorite is from the book Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook.

 So, what about store bought gluten free flour blends?  There are so many to choose from.  I have my favorites and I have some that I was surprisingly disappointed in.  Let's start there.

I heart Trader Joe's.  It is my favorite grocery store for most things.  I go there about once a month and stock up on so many things there (I'll save that for another blog post).  So I was excited to see that they have their own gluten free flour blend.  However, I wasn't impressed with it.  The ingredients are simple: whole grain brown rice flour, potato starch, rice flour, and tapioca flour. Notice there is no xanthan gum, which is fine.  You just need to add your own when baking.  I just found that this made my baked goods have a weird texture.  Kind of gummy.  And when I used it as a breading for let's say, chicken, to cook in the oven, it never seemed to cook properly or get brown. Sad :(

As far as middle of the road blends, I like King Arthur's, Namaste (found mine at Costco) and Bob's Red Mill.  They all do a good job in baked goods, and hold up well in savory cooking also.

But so far my favorite is Jules.  It's the starchiest to say the least, so probably not the healthiest.  But it makes the best baked goods and works beautifully in dinner dishes.  I order mine online from their website.

Using gluten free flour blends (homemade or store bought) I have been able to make pretty anything we want gluten free at home.  Cake, waffles, chicken tenders, roux... you name it, it can be made gluten free!

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